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Archive for June, 2014

In the last chapter of Hosea, the prophet speaks and says:

“Take with you words, and return unto the LORD; say unto Him: ‘Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is good; so will we render for bullocks the offering of our lips. ” (Hosea 14: 3)

I felt like I couldn’t move on to another book of the prophets without giving a nod to this very famous verse, and one of my favorite verses and concepts in the Bible. Basically, the prophet here is saying that the way back to God is not via any kind of sacrifice, but rather through simple words. “We will render for bullocks the offering of our lips,” means that the words our lips say can replace cows, that our mouths can and should be filled with words instead of beef, that to a certain degree that is the clear and truest way to return to God – no bells and whistles, no fancy offerings.

And so I offer here a simple, lip-smacking recipe. Not terribly original, because, in truth, words don’t need to be, so long as they come from the heart. And for this verse, any beef will do, a slow-cooked stew, a simple roast, or even meatloaf – something to represent the fact that though our mouths may be filled with meat, it is the words we say that matter, they will fulfill our obligation, not the beef.

Silan Glazed Corned Beef

Corned Beef 1

1 (2kg/1lb) corned beef
Water to cover

1/4 cup Silan (date honey)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tsp. ground ginger

Put the corned beef in a pan (it should come pre-packaged from your butcher with pickling spices already on it,) and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until your fork can slide easily in and out of the meat (or until the meat reaches an interior temperature of about 180 degrees F)

Drain the water from the pot and put the meat in a roasting pan. Cover with Silan, Dijon mustard, apricot jam and ground ginger. Bake for 30 minutes. The glaze should be nicely browed and caramelized, and the meat should still be moist.

Cool, slice thinly and serve.

Corned Beef 4

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So I continued reading  Hosea this week and I came across this verse:

“…even as the Lord loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love cakes of raisins.” (Hosea 3:1)

Now, I figure that this verse can be parsed in a few different ways – either the children of Israel love cakes of raisins – or indeed the Bible is referring here to something that is called a “love cake” 0r a “love cake of raisins.” Well, as you can imagine I was immediately curious. What in the world is a LOVE CAKE??

Turns out there are traditions for “love cakes”  in quite a few cultures, namely: Portuguese, Sri Lankan, PersianItalian and British.

But it seems like the Bible is referring to some kind of cake that was used for idol worship – perhaps as opposed to the “cakes” that were baked for the holy temple and sacrifices, which certainly never included raisins and were a mixture of grain, oil and spices. The British version of Love Cake to me seemed like the closest type of thing that might be referred to here – small, basic, little cakes made of simple pastry and filled with raisins that could be brought to one’s beau in the field. But various sources seem to suggest that raisin love cakes might have been some form of candy confection, perhaps akin to Halvah or Turkish Delight.

I’m not advocating any kind of idol worship here, but when I thought of “love cakes of raisins” the thing that first came to mind was the British version of a cinnamon bun – a Chelsea Bun, and I’d been wanting to make Chelsea Buns for a long time. So I jazzed up my version of a “love cake of raisins” and gave it a Middle Eastern spin, combining some of the flavors of the Portuguese, Persian and Sri Lankan versions with a traditional Chelsea Bun. Hopefully it won’t inspire any idol worship. Though I have heard that cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and vanilla are aphrodisiacs, so…baker beware!

Middle Eastern Love Cakes with Raisins (Not Your Mother’s Chelsea Buns…)

Raisin cakes 8

Dough:
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
pinch sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp rose water (I use concentrated)
1 tsp. vanilla
7 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
4 cups flour

Filling:
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup demarara sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup apricot jam

1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped apricots
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 Tbsp. apricot jam to brush on top

Topping:
1/4 cup cream or milk (non-dairy is fine too)
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Place yeast, warm water and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until frothy and active. Add milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, rosewater, vanilla. Mix. Add 7 Tbsp. melted margarine or butter, mix. Then add 2 cups flour, mix, then add another 1.5 cups, mix again, then add the last half of a cup until it forms a nice, soft dough. Let the dough rise in a lightly greased bowl for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Prepare filling: melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine, mix with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and apricot jam. Chop apricots and crystallized ginger.

When dough has risen to twice its size, punch it down and roll it out to about 1/4 in thickness in a big rectangle. Spread with filling and top with raisins, chopped apricots and crystallized ginger. Roll up into a big log. Close the seam well. Then slice the log into rounds. Place the rounds in a greased pan. Brush with apricot preserves.

Raisin cakes 2 Raisin cakes 4 Raisin cakes 5 Raisin cakes 6

Bake at 350 degrees (175 C) for about 30 minutes or until the cakes are a deep golden brown on top.

When cakes are cool, mix cream or milk with powdered sugar and drizzle on top. Serve and enjoy!

Raisin cakes 10

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I don’t normally post about two different verses in the same chapter, but as I continued to read in Hosea I came across the following verse:

“And the earth shall respond to the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall respond to Jezreel.” – Hosea 2:24

And of course that got the culinary wheels in my brain turning. Corn, wine, and oil is not an obvious combination in a culinary sense, but it is mentioned quite a few times in both the Bible and prophets. Now, historically and geographically, it’s not the grain that we know today as corn that the Bible is referring to – corn as “maize.” The Bible uses the word “corn – dagan in Hebrew” – to refer to all manner of grains. But for the purposes of the modern ear and modern culinary sensibilities I decided to use corn – ground corn to be more specific, the fine-grained type commonly referred to as Polenta. Oil – and I’m assuming here that it is olive oil that is being referred to – was commonly used not only in cooking, but also for anointing and for kindling. Wine was used as a drink but also as a sacramental substance. So it seems to me that the combination of all of these three items in this verse is an attempt to convey the totality of the response that will happen if indeed we succeed in dedicating, or “betrothing” ourselves to God in the proper way and in the proper intentions – as mentioned in verses 21 and 22: “And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion. And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the LORD.” In return for our complete devotion – God will cause the earth to respond to us in an all-encompassing way: physical, elemental, and spiritual – as represented by the grain, oil and wine – three critical ingredients for our physical and spiritual sustenance on earth.

I decided to take these ingredients and see what I could do with them in two different directions – savory/salty and sweet. I guess you could take the two different recipes I ended up creating and look at it as a further explanation of the verse – you can take the good of the land, the corn, wine and oil that God provides and you can do a lot of different things with it – you can take it in a savory direction, or a sweet direction – it doesn’t matter which direction you take the gifts that God gives you – so long as you use them with the right intentions.

Polenta Two Ways: Savory and Sweet

What I found fascinating about this experiment was that you can truly take 4 basic ingredients: fine-ground cornmeal, olive oil, wine (red and white) and fresh rosemary – and take them in two completely different directions.

Herbed Polenta Tart with Red Wine Mushrooms, Garlic and Rosemary

Polenta 7

Polenta:
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil

Red Wine Mushroom Topping:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thing or diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or diced
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
10 white mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 cup red wine
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional, as topping)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees c (350 degrees F)

Mix cornmeal with broth, salt, herbs, and garlic powder in a saucepan. Place on the fire and stir constantly until mixture thickens so that there are no lumps. When mixture is quite thick and stiff (most recipes tell you that this is when the polenta mixture starts to leave the side of the pan but this didn’t really happen to my mixture – so I’d say when the mixture becomes like very thick gruel or oatmeal) – then stir in 1 Tbsp. olive oil, mix well and then pour into a pie tart (I greased mine with non-stick spray.) Place polenta tart in the oven. (Let it cook for about 10 minutes)

Polenta 4 Polenta 5 Polenta 6 Polenta 8

While the tart cooks prepare the topping: Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes, add fresh chopped rosemary, cook for 1 minute, then add fresh sliced mushrooms, let cook 2 minutes, then add red wine, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until about half of the liquid has evaporated – about 3-5 more minutes.

Remove Tart from oven and spoon mushroom mixture over top. Top with grated parmesan cheese (optional.)

Rosemary and Lemon Polenta Cake with White Wine and Olive Oil

Polenta 9

1/2 cup polenta/fine ground cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary/ 1 tsp. dried
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sweet white wine, such as an Italian moscato or a Muscat de Beaume de Venise
Powdered sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a tart pan with non-stick spray

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. Mix well.

Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Polenta 11 Polenta 12

While still mixing, slowly add the olive oil. Add vanilla, then wine and then the flour mixture, and mix just until blended.

Pour the batter into the pan, and bake until the cake is fragrant, golden, and springy to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes and then turn it out of the pan. After it’s cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar.

Polenta 13

 

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I’ve known for a long time that after EATING THE BIBLE (which sticks strictly to the Old Testament,) I was going to follow up with a series of articles and blog postings about the Prophets. It seemed a natural “next step.” I’m also a poet – and there is nothing like the poetry of the prophets. Following the success of my EATING THE BIBLE cookbook, which is already out in English and soon coming out in Czech, Swedish, Dutch, and Hebrew, I think it’s time.

I’ve decided to name this new venture, PROPHECY IN THE KITCHEN – possibly the name of my next cookbook. The reason for the name is two-fold. First, I think that we are all prophets in the kitchen – on both a superficial and spiritual level. We open the fridge every day and try to divine from its contents what we will concoct for our meals, how we will nourish ourselves and our families. There is also something alchemical about cooking in the kitchen – the way that flour and yeast form bread, the way that beaten eggs can make cakes both rise and fall, the way flavors combine to make something completely new. And to a certain degree we never know exactly what is going to happen when we enter the realm of the kitchen, all we can do is set the stage with the proper intentions, ingredients, equipment and circumstances – and hope for the best, hope that what we set out to create will emerge as we intended.

On a deeper level, I think that we are all prophets in our own right. My husband and I were discussing Eldad and Medad this week, two prophets from the Book of Numbers who stayed back to prophesy among the Israelites while 70 elders went outside the camp to the tabernacle to receive the ability to prophesy from God. Joshua was furious, but Moses took their side. He said that it was a good thing, and that ideally all the Israelites should be able to prophesy. I think we are living in the information age. An age where Rabbis and Priests and Spiritual Leaders are key, but it is also an age where the Bible, knowledge, spiritual connection and yes, indeed, prophecy is readily available to anyone who wishes to seek it out. If we do so in the proper way, with the proper intentions, equipment, and ingredients – foremost among them, a willingness to allow for the divine – both in and out of the kitchen.

My decision to start with Hosea, I must admit, is completely arbitrary. It was either Hosea or Daniel. (I think that Daniel will be next, I’ve recently become fascinated by his story as a result of working on one of my client’s books – in my other life I’m a literary agent and one of my clients has written a Young Adult Urban Fantasy novel that partly revolves around the Book of Daniel.) I started reading Hosea because it is the first in order of the 12 minor prophets, and as I read, I came across one of my favorite verses, Hosea 2:21 “And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.” This is a verse very often related to weddings and betrothals. It is also a verse that Jewish men recite as they bind the tefillin straps around their hands – wrapping the straps as a way of betrothing themselves to God and his word.

Hosea didn’t prophesy in an easy time, but then, none of the prophets did. His job was to broadcast God’s love of the Israelites at a time when heresy and apostasy was at an all-time high. Hosea marries a promiscuous woman to symbolize the fact that God is still willing to marry the Israelites despite their sinful ways. God is always willing to accept our sinful ways and take us back, to wrap us back up into His arms and create a new covenant with us. When I read the verse: “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven,” I, of course started thinking about food. Chicken and beef wrapped together in a marriage of flavors. And thus, Mortadella Chicken with Maple Cider Dijon Glaze was born.

Hosea 2:20-2:22
“And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely.”

“And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.”

“And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.”

Mortadella Chicken with Maple Cider Dijon Glaze

Chicken 24

250 grams of thin sliced Mortadella Salami (Proscuitto or any other thinly sliced deli meat will work too)
1 kg chicken breasts, pounded thin

Stuffing:
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 ribs of celery, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Maple Cider Dijon Glaze
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup alcoholic apple cider (I use Buster’s Isra-Ale Sweet Cider 4.8%!)
1/3 cup chicken stock (I use 1 tsp. chicken soup powder dissolved in 1/3 cup water)

Sauté onion and garlic in a cast-iron skillet (or any frying pan will do) for 2-3 minutes,
add celery and sauté for 3 minutes more. Add thyme, salt and pepper, cook for 1 minute. Then
add fresh parsley, cook for 1 more minute. Add panko breadcrumbs, stir, then add Dijon mustard
and maple syrup, mix well on a low flame until well combined. Turn off flame and let filling cool.

When ready to assemble: grease a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Place one chicken breast before you and spread it with thinly sliced Mortadella salami. Place one heaping
tablespoon of filling in the center of the salami, turn up the ends a bit to prevent the filling from escaping
out the sides, roll up and place seam-side down greased in baking dish. There is no need to secure these rolls
with toothpicks if you pack them in next to each other.

Chicken Picture Combo

When finished, sprinkle the top of chicken lightly with remaining stuffing. Then, in the same pan as you made the stuffing,
cook olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apple cider and chicken stock until mixture thickens. Pour over chicken.

Chicken Picture Combo 2

Place chicken in an oven heated to 175 degrees celcius (or 350 degrees F) and bake for 30-45 minutes.

Chicken 26

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